January 10, 2009
I get a lot of financial questions... especially questions about gas prices, so I thought I'd post about it.
I suppose we budgeted based on the higher gas prices because that is what we had to go on at the time we planned to leave. But we also planned to leave with no certainty of where our income would come from, much less how much would be coming. You could say that we have a surplus now, but this is not really the way that things seem to work for us.
The gas prices came down (and we reduced travels) right when we needed extra cash for costly repairs and winter clothing.
Our budget is very simple: Priority number one is organic whole foods, number two is travel expenses (gas, repairs, lodging, exhibit/museum fees, etc.)
Our bills are very few, consisting mainly of insurance and internet access. Finally we make charitable donations on a percentage base (done mostly by feel and opportunity)
If there is leftover income then we put it in savings.
We have just organized our receipts for 2008 (fun!) and will be charting them to see a more clear picture of where every penny goes... very exciting, I know ;-)
We have found though, that it isn't the gas which is most difficult to budget for, but rather, the food. As we travel across the country the availability of organic whole foods fluctuates, and with that the price. In one town we might pay $150 for a week of groceries and in another a week of the same food would run us $300.
This is where adaptability comes in very handy. Sometimes I must feed the family for a week when all I can find is organic ground beef, a handful of vegetables and a grain or two. I cannot pre-plan meals or rely on a recipe box or book. I must rely on my ability to make meals of whatever food is affordable and available in each new location. It took a little practice, but after a few months of little selection I have gotten the swing of impromptu cooking, and can look at a misfit group of ingredients and make something really good that I would never have made if I'd would have had a whole store to choose from.
I once made a fried rice stir-fry from leftover steel-cut oats and it was fantastic!
How about pot roast with yogurt, mayo, mustard powder and peanut butter? It was the best roast we've ever had. ;-)
What it comes down to is that budget or no budget we make it work by knowing our priorities and remembering the difference between want and need.
And faith...there is always faith that whatever happens we will be grateful for the opportunity to learn something new, and that the love in our family does not waver under money concerns.
I have lived in shelters and grown up on food pantry food and I have lived in luxury, eating the finest food, but these things don't phase you as much when you don't attach a value judgment to them. Happiness can be cultivated in the most barren environments. When all efforts go to cultivation of that happiness then no one is want for anything and all seems to fall naturally into place.
Priorities and Balance to cultivate happiness... these seem to be my big lessons.
We try not to forget to expose ourselves to new experiences and grow by pushing our boundaries outward. Replacing fear with faith... faith in ourselves, in each other, in mankind and in the overall beauty and value of everything that happens. We usually find that that faith is then quickly replaced with experienced knowing ;-) which is a very comfortable feeling... you're boundaries stretching that is ;-)
There have been many moments that left me breathless but thinking "[If I can do that] I can do anything" and that is a belief which is so liberating and so supportive to life that, along with true self love, is the one thing I hope to pass to my children above all else.
How's that for a very long answer to a very simple question ;-)
Posted by Aimée LeVally at Saturday, January 10, 2009